Website: Official Alice in Wonderland site
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen
For those who, like me, were instantly excited about this new version of
Her spotty memory is a bit of a problem, as everyone has been anxiously awaiting her return. Since she left her original visit to Wonderland, the evil Red Queen has taken over, decimating the land, and causing everyone to live in a state of constant terror. A prophetic scroll has appeared from somewhere, deeming
I find myself hard-pressed to find anything to say about this new Alice in Wonderland, because I feel like precious little actually happened in the movie. So much time is spent on
There are also several bizarre character directions taken (and I mean nonsensical-bizarre, not Burton-bizarre). As the White Queen, the Red Queen’s nicer sister and the true ruler of Wonderland, Anne Hathaway looks stunning, but acts like Snow White on acid. She speaks in a lilting little-girl voice, while constantly floating her arms around, as though she’s mesmerized by their existence. Every scene she appears in is strangely distracting, in the worst sort of way. Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter is also taken in an odd direction. Rather than appearing loopy and, well, mad, he’s more like a manic depressive who forgot to pick up his prescription. And I hate the costume choice that was made for him; the pale face, orange fright wig, and wonky green contact lenses did absolutely nothing for me.
The best parts of the movie seem to involve the non-human characters. The Cheshire Cat (voiced by Stephen Fry) is fantastic, as he smoothly melts in and out of scenes, dispensing his own special brand of nonsense wisdom. Alan Rickman’s hookah-smoking Caterpillar is underutilized, but is a standout when he does appear to offer insight in the form of riddles. I even enjoyed the appearance of the Bandersnatch, a snarling beast in the Red Queen’s army who has no voice, more than most of the speaking characters. At least the Bandersnatch actually does stuff!
Bottom Line: Surely not the worst version of Alice in Wonderland out there, this is still a far cry from the best. And it’s quite possibly one of the least Tim Burton-y of the Tim Burton movies, which does is a great disservice. Given his early-career love of the dark, twisted, and macabre, Alice seemed like it would be right up his alley, but his direction went astray somewhere. I don’t know if he tried too hard to make the story his own, or if he lost his edge in keeping everything family-friendly, or what the hell happened, but this trip to Wonderland was one I wasn’t disappointed to discover was all just a dream.